Agronomy Library > Soil Conservation

Soil Microbial Diversity and Community Structure under Wheat as Influenced by Tillage and Crop Rotation
Author: Lupwayi, N.Z., Rice, W. A., and Clayton, G.W
Date Created: February 12, 1998
Last Reviewed: February 28, 2007

Document Source: Soil Biology and Biochemistry. 30 (13): 1733 - 1741

The BIOLGTM system was used to investigate the effects of tillage and crop rotation on the diversity and community structure of soil bacteria. Every 2 years soil was sampled (0 - 7.5 cms) in the wheat phase of different cropping rotations established under zero tillage or conventional tillage on a Gray Luvisol in northern Alberta, Canada. Soil was collected from bulk soil at planting time and from bulk soil and wheat rhizosphere at flag-leaf stage of wheat growth.

- Tillage significantly (P<0.05) reduced the diversity of bacteria by reducing both substrate richness and evenness. The influence of tillage on microbial diversity was more prominent at the flag-leaf stage than at planting time and more prominent in bulk soil than in the rhizosphere at the flag-leaf stage.

- Microbial diversity was significantly higher under wheat preceded by red clover green manure or field peas than under wheat following wheat (continuous wheat) or summer fallow. The substrate utilization patterns of the bacterial communities also revealed that the bacterial community assemblages under conventional tillage had more similar structures than those under zero tillage.

These results indicate that reduced tillage and legume-based crop rotations support diversity of soil microbial communities and may affect the sustainability of agricultural ecosystems.